Accessibility links

Breaking News

VOA Asia Weekly: Pacific Island Ocean Preservation Efforts

VOA Asia Weekly: Pacific Island Ocean Preservation Efforts
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:05:06 0:00

Trump wins New Hampshire Republican Primary over Haley. China boosts lending to businesses and homeowners. Japan's hi-tech nuclear plant cleanup. Ayodhya, India's Ram temple opens to public.

Pacific Islands nations progress toward ocean preservation goals.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Manchester, New Hampshire, reporting from the first state primary in the US race for President in 2024. We'll get to our top story in a moment but first, making headlines:

Former President Donald Trump’s win in the Republican New Hampshire Primary brings him closer to securing the GOP Presidential nomination. He’s the first non-incumbent Republican in 40 years to triumph in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. But Trump’s only remaining opponent -- former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley --- secured a strong second place with 43.3 percent, surpassing expectations.

China’s central bank announced Wednesday it is boosting bank lending to homes and businesses. The government wants to stabilize the slumping Chinese stock exchanges. On Monday, the Shanghai index experienced its worst day since April 2022. On Tuesday, Hong Kong shares rallied, helped by gains in technology companies like e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Tokyo Electric Power Company finished testing the first drones to help decommission its tsunami-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi plant. A snake-shaped robot and four drones will be dispatched in February. TEPCO aims to use the drone images to assess how to remove debris from one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Thirteen years after the event, hundreds of tons of damaged fuel remain.

Thick smog, covering Lahore, Pakistan. Once famous for its gardens, Lahore is now infamous for poor air quality. Thousands of people have become ill due to toxic smog. Experts advocate for increased cooperation among India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to address air pollution across Southeast Asia.

Since the United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP 28, concluded mid-December, Pacific Island states have been working to implement a brand-new $500 million-dollar climate protection fund. VOA’s Jessica Stone reports.

Scientists say these are among some of the most endangered shorelines on the planet.

The Pacific Island nations – Niue.

The Marshall Islands.


The Maldives.


Together, they are on the front line of the battle against climate change.

“As ocean states, we say protection of the oceans is an important component because it's the largest carbon sink. Every second breath you take comes from the ocean.”

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. says ocean conservation has long been a way of life for those who live in the Pacific Islands.

Palauan environment minister Steven Victor provides this example from the 1990s.

“The fishermen and their local chiefs got together and then decided that these were areas that needed a rest from fishing to allow them to recover.”

At last year's United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP 28, Pacific Island nations announced the Blue Pacific Prosperity Initiative and raised $228 million toward a $500 million fund to conserve 30 percent of the ocean.

National Geographic’s Pristine Seas program is already helping Palau set up a marine protected area and stands ready to advise other Pacific nations as well, says founder Enric Sala.

“We are there for the long haul to make sure that the protected areas are designed properly, located in the right places, so they can maximize the benefits to marine life to local people and to the planet.”

Sala says walling off critical fishing grounds is a proven way to replenish them within 5 to 10 years, but, he says, the longer-term objective is to put a dent in global warming.

"The plankton in the ocean is microscopic algae and bacteria that live offshore. They capture a quarter of the CO2 emission that we produce every year."

And, Palau President Whipps says, it’s a goal that represents an investment, not only for the region, but for the world.

“Our first goal is to get to 500 million. You know, I'd like to see it the fund get up to. 2 billion, it’s 15 countries."

Fifteen countries desperate to protect their precious resources.

Jessica Stone, VOA News.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, hundreds of thousands of people gathered outside the controversial new Ram temple in the Indian city of Ayodhya on Tuesday as it opened for the first time to the general public. Temple management expects 100 thousand visitors each day for the next few months. It is on the site of a mosque destroyed by rioters 30 years ago.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.